August 4th, 2010
11:25 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Quarter doubt Obama was born in U.S.


President Obama’s birth certificate (left) has been certified authentic by the Republican governor of Hawaii. His birth announcement (right) appeared in print in 1961. (PHOTO CREDIT: State of Hawaii)

Washington (CNN) - It's surely not what the leader of the free world wants for his birthday. But, for a stubborn group of Americans, conspiracy theories about President Obama's birthplace are the gifts that keep on giving.

The president celebrates his 49th birthday Wednesday. On the same day, a new national poll indicates some Americans continue to doubt the president was born in the United States. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, more than a quarter of the public have doubts about Obama's citizenship, with 11 percent saying Obama was definitely not born in the United States and another 16 percent saying the president was probably not born in the country.

Full results [pdf]

Forty-two percent of those questioned say they have absolutely no doubts that the president was born in the U.S., while 29-percent say he "probably" was.

"Not surprisingly, there are big partisan differences, although a majority of Republicans thinks Obama was definitely or probably born here," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Eighty-five percent of Democrats say that Obama was definitely or probably born in the U.S., compared to 68 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans say he was probably not born here, and another 14 percent of Republicans say he was definitely not born in the U.S."

The theory that the president was not born in the U.S. has nagged him since the 2008 presidential campaign. A group of true believers, known as "Birthers," have pressed the idea that Obama was born in another country - some say in his father's homeland of Kenya. By their claims, Obama is constitutionally ineligible to serve as president.

On the president's birthday, some websites bent on advancing the theory are wishing Obama a "Happy Birther Day." And some of the president's staunchest critics are fanning the flames.

On Tuesday, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh quipped on his program, "They tell us August 4th is the birthday. We haven't seen any proof of that!"

Yet there is ample evidence that defies Limbaugh's statement and the beliefs of the 27-percent of Americans that, according to the poll, doubt the president's birthplace. CNN and other news organizations have thoroughly debunked the rumors.

Hawaii has released a copy of the president's birth certificate - officially called a "certificate of live birth." And in 1961 the hospital where the president was born placed announcements in two Hawaiian newspapers regarding Obama's birth.

The White House has called doubts that Obama was born in Hawaii "fictional nonsense."

But questions persist. So much that in May, Hawaii passed a law that allows state agencies to ignore repeated requests to view government records, including the president's birth document. Hawaii's Republican Gov. Linda Lingle signed the legislation into law.

Around that time, Lingle - who campaigned for Sen. John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008 - criticized questions about the president's birth.

In a WABC interview before signing the legislation, Lingle said, "...I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records of the Department of Health." Lingle added, " … The president was in fact born at Kapi'olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that's just a fact."

"It's been established he was born here," the governor continued. "I can understand why people want to make certain that the constitutional requirement of being a, you know, natural born American citizen … but the question has been asked and answered. And I think just we should all move on now."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN's Alexander Mooney, Paul Steinhauser and Sam Feist contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN Polls • Hawaii • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. cf

    We still haven't seen the birth certificates of Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Michael Steele, John Boehner, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O"reilly, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, etc, etc, etc.

    August 4, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  2. MoJo

    Awful lot of really stupid racists walking around out there.

    Watch out! The black helicopters are coming for you now!

    August 4, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. buster brown

    Do we need any more proof that a quarter of the population is mentally challenged?

    August 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. Grahame Rhodes

    Which just proves that one third of all Americans are stupider that the other three

    August 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Blaum

    He was born a US citizen.... I don't doubt that.

    He just happens to be a disaster as a president.... that's what concerns me...

    August 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. Danny Boy

    Wow..that's surprising...1/4 of America is stupid?

    August 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  7. Al

    Limbaugh's comment is actually pretty funny as it does spoof the silliness of this whole thing. I swear, if the president were born in Kenya there'd be people claiming that was faked, too. I just want these birthers to stand up and swear that had McCain been elected they'd have gone after him for not being born on American soil, too.

    August 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. kierthos

    This just in.

    11% polled are complete retards.
    16% polled are only major retards.

    Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ, nothing is going to convince these morons of the truth.

    August 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Krista

    "Birthers" are racists, pure and simple. I wonder if they would go after McCain with the same fervor. He was born on a military base outside the U.S. There's more question there about his legal standing than anything that could be thrown at President Obama.

    I guess there are some people who just can't understand the concept of Hawaii being a state, or that they are bi-racial couples in the U.S.

    August 4, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Mark

    Are we still talking about this non-issue? Come on CNN, give us some real news.

    August 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. Irma in North Carolina

    Well it looks like the racists tea party gang and Palin and fox news are up to the same old stuff again. This is getting rather tiresome and some one should put an end to this once and forall.

    August 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. sara

    this is so very stupid. How did he get to be a Senator if he was not a US born citizen. Come on folks stop it all ready

    August 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Florida Joe

    with all the issues facing us in the USA this is the nonsense they are worried about .............HE WON GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    I've talked to a couple "birthers" and I can attest that they aren't the brightest bulbs in the pack.

    The GOP didn't want President Obama to win in 2008. If President Obama's birth certificate was fake, the GOP, with its millions of dollars, would have taken the issue to court and proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    That, plus the fact that our Federal investigative agencies have confirmed the authenticity of the President's Hawaiian birth certificate (along with the appropriate authorities in Hawaii itself).

    The only problem here is the birthers inability to accept the fact that an African-American is in the White House.

    August 4, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. fielding mellish

    Sheer stupidity thanks to the relentless right wing campaign to ignore the truth and promote doubt. Scare tactics work best on the ignorant.

    August 4, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. BobH

    Interestingly, similar percentages of Americans, in a National Science Foundation study, did not know that earth goes around the sun.

    So I think what we've determined here is that 25% of Americans are really, really stupid.

    August 4, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Pam

    It is quite apparent that those who say they doubt his citizenship are actually trying to disguise their racism.

    August 4, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. cf

    The title of this post should be "Quarter of Americans are complete imbeciles."
    Shame on the GOP leadership and the conservative media for stoking the flames of this idiotic conspiracy theory.

    August 4, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Mary

    Governor Lingle is right. "The question has been asked and answered. . . We should all move on now."

    Yes, the "birthers" should accept this argument as a lost cause. If you want to hate Obama because he is trashing the Constitution, that's fine by me.

    The question I have to ask you birthers is where was your hate when his predecessors were trashing the Constitution? Or was that different because they were Republican?

    If you hate Democrats, but turn a blind eye to Republican abuses of power, you are a hypocrite, and not a patriot.

    August 4, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. masgap

    What can be said. The poll shows 16% are wrong and that's being nice God help this country.

    August 4, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  21. Rob

    Lots of Americans are idiots.
    Americans are uncivilized and dumb.

    August 4, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    This poll only proves that 25% of Americans are morons and all too willing to believe any line of bull that the GOP throws at them.

    Wake up, folks, and accept that you're being used by Republicans, with their birther, pro-gun, anti-choice, anti-gay talk.

    Republicans are playing you for fools, stirring up your fears and hatred, so they can get you to the polls and vote for them – and then pick your pockets clean!

    August 4, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  23. BradKT

    This poll tells me that about 27% of those polled have a problem with President Obama's race.

    August 4, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. ART

    These are not just conspiracy theorist ,these are hard core racist who cannot stumach the fact that an African American is our president. Enough already get over it.

    August 4, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. Frank from Gilroy

    The REPUBLICAN Governor of Hawaii has stated a half a dozen times on record that the birth certificate is legit. If people weren't so filled with hate of this Presidents color than they could move on to something that is relevant to fixing all the sh*t that Bush broke.

    "It's tough to see when you are blind by hate"

    August 4, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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